Fraser Nelson

Continuing the immigration debate

Continuing the immigration debate
Text settings

My post on immigration the other week was picked up by BBC World Service, who invited me to discuss it with Lord Maurice Peston (podcast here). I regard it as one of the most important yet least discussed issues in Britain right now, and my original also raised some typically robust comments and critiques from CoffeeHousers. My point is that Britain has a dangerously dysfunctional labour market, one so flawed that when the economy expands it sucks in foreign workers rather than tackling our unemployment. I also revealed that all net job creation in the private sector can be accounted for by immigration.

Anyway, allow me to respond to some of the points raised:

1. THE BORIS FACTOR. “So anyone who moved here as a child in the 80s or nineties count as Foreign Born I presume” – Statto. Yes, this is the implication of the Eurostat definition. It is used by some – including many on the right – to suggest the whole definition is nonsense (after all, Boris was born in America). But note that this category has gone from 7% to 14% of private sector jobs since 1997 – something tells me this is not due to a sudden influx of foreign-born school leavers.

2. DEATH. I say that “Those who have been on benefits for five years or more are more likely to die than work again”. As John Page points out, they are 100% likely to die and he asks me to put a timeframe on it. This is DWP research, and it means they are more likely to die or reach pension age than work again. Putting someone on benefits for that amount of time is to economically decommission them – we can’t kid ourselves that this is the compassionate system doing its work. I was once at a Fabian seminar where a speaker said he regarded being on welfare as no different to using a public service such as schools or GPs. It is time to be clear abour what our welfare state is condemning people to – 2.3m have been on benefits for five years or more, 1.1m for a dozen years and more. For the latest numbers in this miserable category, click here.

3. A CUNNING PLAN?This level of immigration is not accidental, it's another aspect of the cultural war being waged upon us by our arrogant elite.” – Paul. And “Immigrants are (eventually) expected to vote Labour”. Guys, do either of you think it would be in the competence of this government to engineer such a result? I think it’s worse, they didn’t (and still don’t) have a clue about the scale of it and don’t understand the social dislocation it causes.

4. WHAT USE THE UNEMPLOYED?It's an absolute pipedream to think that within the unemployed there exists a vast amount of latent resource just waiting to be deployed to produce net value added for the country.” Simon Stephenson, you may say I’m a dreamer - but I’m not the only one. I really do see untapped, potentially transformative economic potential in the masses claiming dole. Especially as there is plenty of entrepreneurial spirit in the UK’s thriving black market. I hope to expand on this theme with a Spectator piece looking at the black market. I’m not saying we’d have 1.9m fewer unemployed if it wasn’t for the 1.9m extra immigrants, or that they could fill the more skilled vacancies. I just believe that immigration has allowed politicians to ignore the economic (as well as human) waste that Brown’s dole queues represent.

5. IMMIGRANTS CONTRIBUTE. “Without the vast influx of job-hunting, wealth-creating and growth-enhancing) immigration of the last decade, we would *all* be poorer. Even middle class honkeys like Coffee House readers (and contributors).” Ivan D, I am by no means not advocating a ban on immigration and welcome the cultural diversity it brings. To expand your class analogy, immigration is very good for those who employ them (as cleaners, bartenders, builders etc) but not so good for those who compete with them for school places, GP slots or low-paid jobs. My plea is to for a more nuanced view to the immigration debate, not just to say it’s an unmitigated good (or bad).

“Surely the "carers" group is a bit different from the others on benefits.” Yes, JJ, they are. The Tories strip carers out. But this is DWP categorisation – click here to see the numbers from which I drew the data.

7. ARE THE FIGURES MADE UP? “Your absurd Screws claim to have "revealed" that "immigrants have taken (or created) all the new jobs in the British private sector". You’re not, of course, a liar, merely a fool.” Ivan, I know this topic can raise temperatures, but I leave you with the below graph. This is collected by the ONS under a Eurostat mandate uniform across all EU countries. You’ll find the blue line – British-born workers in the private sector – finishing at a lower point than it started while the red line surges. I know it is hard to believe, but if we are to discuss immigration we’d best get the facts right.